Videoguys' Options for Final Cut Editors

If you are a Final Cut Pro editor, unless you've been living in a cave up in the hills, you have heard all the hype about FCPX, the next generation of Final Cut Pro. I'm intentionally not calling the product Final Cut Pro ver 10, because it isn't a next version of Final Cut at all. It is a completely new application. They could have called it Norman or Wolf or Orange, because it is a brand new editing app called FCPX. When it ships it will be version 1.0 of FCPX, and with it may come some workflow and compatibility issues that any 1.0 software release encounters.

This is not to knock Apple or FCPX. I raved about the FCPX Sneak Peak in our NAB report. And, like millions of you, I will buy and download it from the App store as soon as it is released. I'm also going to take some time playing with it and testing it, before I do any important projects on it. Before I switch over to it from the current Final Cut Studio, I'm going to have to wait and see if my 3rd party hardware and plug-ins still work. As of today nobody can give me an answer to this very important question and Apple's continued silence does give me some reason for concern. I'd love to download FCPX and to have my MXO2 Mini, and my Boris and Red Giant plug-ins work, but until FCPX is actually released, we just will not know.

So what is a poor FCP editor to do? We suggest you follow these 4 easy steps:

Step 1: Purchase and Download FCPX when Apple makes it available.

For $299 I think it's a pretty safe bet you are going to find enough goodness in it to justify the expense. In fact, I'm pretty sure many of you will LOVE it. But I would not be surprised if some Final Cut Pro editors don't. You won't know until you try it, and then you need to test it with all your existing hardware and software. As with any NLE upgrade, finish your existing projects before you try and port them over to the new version. If you do run into issues, be patient, I'm sure they will all be addressed and worked out, it will just be a matter of time.

Step 2: Keep using the current and final version of Final Cut Pro.

Even though it's the last version and we know we'll be saying goodbye to an old friend, it doesn't magically stop working for you just because Apple launched a new NLE called FCPX. If your current FCP workflow is getting the job done, then there is no rush to switch to FCPX or any other NLE at this time. But, let's be honest, as much as we love Final Cut Pro, we know that there are some things that other NLEs now do better (including FCPX). Since Apple has moved on to FCPX, we won't see stuff like native format support for AVCHD or other HD formats, we won't get true 64-bit computing or GPU acceleration or the ability to fully utilize all the RAM and cores in our current Mac Pro. Yes, FCPX will have it, but it's not going to happen for Final Cut Pro and we know you have a lot of time, money, equipment, and other resources invested in Final Cut. So what other options do you have?

Step 3: Consider your alternatives. Give Avid and Adobe another look and consider adding one (or both) while they are looking to entice Final Cut Editors like you with special promotions.

Avid Media Composer 5.5

Check out Avid Media Composer. Download the trial version here. If you like it, Avid is now offering a Final Cut Owners the opportunity to "crossgrade" to Media Composer for just $975! But Hurry! This offer expires June 17th, 2011. You don't have to give up your current Final Cut Pro, you just have to prove you own it. Even better ,you don't just get Media Composer, you get the full Production Suite of 3rd party software!!

I know many of you left Avid for Final Cut. But remember why you left Avid. You left because it was too expensive and it didn't support affordable 3rd party I/O hardware.

Well a lot has changed over the past couple of years. Avid now supports 3rd party hardware. Although it's limited to the Matrox MXO2 Mini, MXO2 Mini with MAX and the AJA Io Express, Avid has said repeatedly that they are committed to becoming even more open and that support for the rest of the Matrox & AJA hardware is just a matter of time. It's no longer a question of if, but when - and I think FCPX has sharply accelerated that timetable.

Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium

Check out Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium and Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5. Download the trial version here. If you are a video editor you most likely own and use Adobe products all the time. Photoshop and After Effects are two tools most editors and videographers depend on, day in and day out. Like Avid, Adobe is going to make you a fantastic offer to Final Cut owners on their point-product upgrade to Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium Since you already own one of their point products (Premiere, Premiere Pro, After Effects CS or Photoshop CS) and you own Final Cut, you can upgrade to the full Production Premium for just $799 now through June 30th, 2011.

Now lets talk about Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 and how far it has come over the past few years. This is not your father's Premiere, or the Premiere you may remember from even five years ago. Premiere Pro is a screaming fast 64-bit, multi-threaded, GPU accelerated, native format eating, video editing monster. No other NLE before or since taps into the power and performance of today's computers like Premiere Pro CS5.5 and the Mercury playback engine. The Mercury Engine allows you to work with multiple layers of HD footage in their native file formats in real-time. AVCHD, DSLR, RED, P2 are all no problem. Mix & match them in your timeline, with multiple layers of video, filters and effects. Hit the spacebar and watch it play. Full speed, full resolution. If you have an AJA Kona card or Matrox MXO2 you get full speed, full res, HD output straight from the timeline.

Step 4: Edit, make videos, make money!

Competition is good. The big winner is you. Thanks to FCPX you now have more affordable options than ever. We don't have to crown a champion in this NLE war, because you, the editor get to wear the TRIPLE CROWN!

Do the math. FCPX $299, Avid Media Composer 5.5 $995, Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium $799. For under $2,000 you now have the ultimate collection with all of the very best tools available on the market, all working side by side on your Mac Pro, or MacBook Pro or one of those sexy new iMacs with Thunderbolt. As for your old reliable FCP - it still keeps on chugging. Now you can use whichever tool is best for the job, and you can work on projects no matter who started them or what NLE the client or producer thinks is best. You won't ever loose a job or miss an opportunity because your edit suite has no limits or boundaries. Any format, any NLE, any project - you have no technical limitations - the only thing stopping you is you're own creativity and imagination.

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